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9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 14

The injury bug cares not about your fantasy team, playoffs of bust. It bit a few stalwarts in Week 13, including James Conner, A.J. Green, Matt Breida and Greg Olsen. We’ll help you pivot by identifying the top nine waiver targets entering the playoffs.

First, our weekly reminder that only dudes owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues are eligible for the ‘9 route,’ where we’re helping you achieve maximum success on the Week 14 waiver wire. Those who barely missed the cut but would’ve been included: QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin and WR Adam Humphries.

9. 49ers WR Dante Pettis

We’re starting to see why the Niners traded up in Round 2 for the former Washington Huskies star. He exceeded 20 miles per hour (per Next Gen stats) on his 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown, Pettis’ second score on Sunday and his third over the past two weeks, when his 9-206-3 receiving line made him fantasy’s WR1 overall. Marquise Goodwin is set to return from a two-game layoff, but there’s no way Pettis will be returning to the bench, injuries notwithstanding, for the remainder of his rookie season. The Niners have plenty of problems, but generating big plays on offense isn’t one of them, and Pettis has a strong chance to keep things going vs. the Broncos’ banged-up secondary.

8. Broncos WR Courtland Sutton

After career highs Sunday in targets (seven), grabs (four) and receiving yards (85), including a 30-yard touchdown, Denver’s “other” rookie playmaker gets a nice encore opportunity in the 49ers, who have allowed an explosive receiving score in four of their past five games and an NFL-worst 19 combined touchdowns to wide receivers. Looking past San Francisco (us, not the Broncos, we hope), we find two more enticing matchups (vs. Cleveland and at Oakland) that could keep Sutton in the WR3/FLEX discussion throughout the fantasy playoffs.

7. Panthers WR Curtis Samuel

The Panthers might be racing toward a defensive rebuild, but the future is bright for their pass-catching arsenal. Samuel set career highs in targets (11), catches (six) and receiving yards (88) Sunday. That usage coinciding with Devin Funchess’ return from injury makes it clear that Norv Turner is making good on his pledge to manufacture opportunities for one of the game’s most explosive players. After visiting Cleveland Sunday, Samuel’s Panthers are looking at a pair of potential shootouts with New Orleans and Atlanta — primed for Samuel to punctuate his Year 2 breakout.

6. Browns WR Antonio Callaway

Our No. 5 rec last week, Callaway moves down one spot only because of the surprising influx of backs, but he cleared at least five targets for the fourth time in the past five weeks and amassed a career-high 84 receiving yards in Houston. Seventy-one of those yards came on one play, the fourth straight game he has at least one explosive catch. And the Browns’ mercurial rookie has a remaining schedule conducive for maintaining his nice second half — vs. Carolina, at Denver, vs. Cincinnati.

5. Lions RB LeGarrette Blount

The Lions are slowing games down of late with Blount, who conversely hasn’t looked as slow with a new lease on Detroit’s backfield in the absence of Kerryon Johnson. He has 35-149-2 rushing over his past two games after earning more carries (21) than yards (16) over the previous four games. The Cardinals run ‘D’ is a sieve, and Blount figures to be a big part of the game plan in a third consecutive game.

4. Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah

Uzomah had been a target magnet even before A.J. Green was placed on injured reserve this week. In four games since Green was first injured, Uzomah has commanded 28 combined looks. Granted, they were 28 score-less looks and he’s averaged 4-34 receiving. But if you played fantasy this season, you know about these mean TE streets. Moreover, after Uzomah’s Bengals host the Chargers on Sunday, they play Oakland (league-high nine receiving TDs allowed to TEs) and visit Cleveland (league-high 75 catches allowed to TEs). Who said nothing is going right for the Bengals?

3. 49ers RB Jeffrey Wilson

Looking for a scouting report on the Niners’ undrafted North Texas product? We can’t help since he wasn’t one of the 27 backs PFW draft expert Greg Gabriel wrote up this spring. However, here’s all you need to know right now: Matt Breida’s aggravated ankle injury will sideline him Sunday, and Wilson played 71 percent of the snaps Sunday against the Seahawks, parlaying 23 (!) touches into 134 (!!) yards from scrimmage. The Broncos’ CB injuries could mean Kyle Shanahan favors the passing game and helps explain why Wilson isn’t the only 49ers rook written up in this space. But that kind of opportunity this late in the season can’t be ignored, and Wilson — a garbage-time hero Sunday — could be in another one-sided contest vs. a semi-susceptible Broncos run ‘D’ before the rematch vs. Seattle.

2. Chargers RB Justin Jackson

Our No. 1 recommended add in Week 13, Jackson only drops down a spot on our list because of our pace-setter’s otherwise barren RB room. But it’s impossible to ignore the juice Jackson brought to a Chargers ground game that coaxed 2.1 yards per carry from interim starter Austin Ekeler — including an almost unfathomable 1 yard on eight attempts before intermission — and 7.9 from the underrated rookie out of Northwestern. Look past the box score, flip on the film and you’ll know that it was Jackson, not Ekeler, who was catalyzing the Bolts’ incredible comeback in Pittsburgh. Ekeler earned only five carries in the second half and two in the fourth quarter, where Jackson was the man with six of his eight totes, including a beautiful 19-yard touchdown to give the Chargers their first lead. It was the kind of performance that should give head coach Anthony Lynn pause before rushing Melvin Gordon back into the lineup in Cincinnati, who has the worst run ‘D’ in football — fantasy and reality.

1. Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels

Why will the rookie, Samuels, be the Steelers’ lead back over vet Stevan Ridley in James Conner’s potential multi-week absence with an ankle injury? If there’s one area in which the fourth-rounder from North Carolina State might already be better than both vets, it’s in the passing game, where Samuels was prolific for the Wolfpack as a chess piece RB/WR/TE. Conner and Le’Veon Bell never have to come off the field because of their pass-down proficiency, and that’s exactly the area in which Samuels has impressed, albeit sporadically, with both of his touchdowns and all nine of his targets coming over the past month. He’s been used almost exclusively in the passing game, so it’s possible Ridley gets the early-down nod — and he’s certainly worth a bench spot — but we’d much rather gamble on the younger, more dynamic matchup heading into a plus matchup in Oakland.


1. Lamar Jackson

2. Case Keenum

3. Derek Carr

4. Josh Allen

5. Eli Manning

6. Ryan Tannehill

7. Nick Mullens

8. Josh Rosen

9. Jeff Driskel


1. Jaylen Samuels

2. Justin Jackson

3. Jeff Wilson

4. LeGarrette Blount

5. Rashaad Penny

6. Jalen Richard

7. Nyheim Hines

8. Ty Montgomery

9. Stevan Ridley


1. Antonio Callaway

2. Curtis Samuel

3. Courtland Sutton

4. Dante Pettis

5. Chris Godwin

6. Anthony Miller

7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling

8. Zay Jones

9. John Ross

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